Precarious employment is considered an emerging social determinant of health; its prevalence is increasing and its study remains in its infancy. The objective of this study is to describe the prevalence of precarious employment in the European Union (EU-28) using a multidimensional approach, 8 years into the economic crisis.Methods
This is a cross-sectional study based on data from the Flash Eurobarometer 398 among salaried workers of the EU-28 from 2014 (n=7702). We derived 4 factors of precarious employment (not having the ability to exercise rights, vulnerability, disempowerment and temporariness) from several items of the questionnaire. We calculated the proportions and their 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) for each of the precarious employment factors. Also, we calculated the prevalence of precarious employment (having at least one factor) and the proportion of workers presenting 1, 2, 3 or 4 factors of precarious employment. All analyses were stratified by age, sex, age at the end of education and welfare regime.Results
66.38% (95% CI: 60.58 to 71.72) of the salaried European workers had precarious employment. The prevalence of precarious employment was higher in Eastern European countries (72.64%; 95% CI: 61.78 to 81.34) than Nordic European countries (51.09%; 95% CI: 44.38 to 57.77). No differences were found according to sex, age, or age at the end of education. The most prevalent factor was not having the ability to exercise rights (42.40%), followed by disempowerment (31.44%), vulnerability (12.41%) and temporariness (11.36%).Conclusion
2 out of 3 European salaried workers suffer precarious employment. Precariousness is widespread among the salaried working population as shown by the similar prevalence found between men and women, workers of different ages and age at the end of education. The European Commission should consider new forms of employment and legislate accordingly to avoid an increase in precarious employment.